Mexico extradited the former deputy leader of a Tijuana drug cartel to the United States on Friday to face racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking charges, US officials said.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix, known as “The Doctor,” ran the powerful Arellano-Felix Organization drug trafficking cartel with his brothers Benjamin and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix. They are both serving time for drug trafficking convictions in the United States.
“The extradition of Eduardo Arellano-Felix today marks the end of a 20-year DEA investigation into this vicious drug cartel,” said William Sherman, acting special agent in charge of the San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration.
US Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer added: “Today’s extradition is a milestone in our fight against the Mexican drug cartels.”
Arellano-Felix, 55, was arrested by Mexican authorities in the northwestern city of Tijuana in October 2008 following a shootout with a tactical unit. His cartel was especially active in the city just across the border from San Diego.
His extradition to the United States was granted in 2010, but he had remained in Mexico while he pursued his avenues of appeals, all of which are now exhausted.
He is set to make his first court appearance in San Diego on Tuesday in US federal court, the US Justice Department said in a statement.
US prosecutors say Arellano-Felix was involved in racketeering as part of a plot to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, as well as money laundering, according to the indictment.
The document said that the drug cartel’s leaders negotiated directly with Colombian traffickers to buy multi-ton shipments of cocaine that were then smuggled into the United States.
The group’s estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds were then smuggled back into Mexico.
During its heyday in the 1990s, the Arellano-Felix Organization controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. It also ran operations in southern Mexico and Colombia.